Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Published: February 28, 2017
Star Rating: 5 stars
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. What everyone wants to know is: What really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could destroy her community. It could also endanger her life. (source)
Update: This is a SPOILER-FREE REVIEW.
Trigger warning: gun violence, police brutality.
There are no words to describe my love for this book. I figured that I would enjoy it, because of the topic and because of all the great ratings. I didn’t know that it would open me up and tear me apart, and make me feel heard and cared for.
This book is why #ownvoices is so incredibly important. I read things in this book that reminded me so much of my own family and our culture that I wanted to cry. Cry. I’ve read books with black protagonists, but reading this one, from a black author who’s probably experienced all this herself and knows how to write it? It’s like night and day, honestly.
There was so much I could relate to involving Starr. Our lives aren’t exactly the same, of course, but some of the things she mentioned really resonated with me as feelings I have often. I don’t want to give away all the good parts, but here are just a few to wet your palette:
“Living in the suburbs don’t make you any less black than living in the hood.”
“Funny how it works with white kids though. It’s dope to be black until its hard to be black.”
I definitely related to how she felt like she had to be two different people – that she couldn’t “act black” around her white friends.
“Williamson Starr doesn’t use slang – if a rapper would say it, she doesn’t say it, even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her ‘hood’. Williamson Starr holds her tongue when people piss her off so nobody will think she’s the ‘angry black girl’. Williamson Starr is approachable. No stank-eyes, side-eyes, none of that. Williamson Starr is non-confrontational. Basically, Williamson Starr doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto.
I can’t stand myself for doing it, but I do it anyway.”
Of course, one of the things that I could relate to the most was the Black Lives Matter movement, and how frustrating it can all be. Much of the things that Starr thought, I’ve wondered a million times before.
“It seems like they always talk about what he may have said, what he may have done, what he may not have done. I didn’t know a dead person could be charged in his own murder, you know?”
Such a huge topic in this book was family, which is all too rare in YA contemporaries. Starr of course needs people to lean on during this tragic event, and her family is the biggest part of that. I love all of them: her parents, her brothers, her uncle. The role each of them played in Starr’s life was magnified, showing the good, and the ugly. I especially love the Daddy-Daughter vibes.
Speaking of fathers. This is a quick, and semi-personal note, but I thought it would be important to mention. Reading from Starr’s perspective gave me a lot of insight as to how my dad grew up. I live in a incredibly nice, incredibly safe neighborhood with my parents and my sister, but my dad has told me about his childhood. How he grew up with five siblings, and one mom, in a rough neighborhood. How because of his grades he was able to get bused to a white school, miles away, as one of the first and only black kids to attend that school (this was the 70s, after all). I’m once again, very grateful to Angie Thomas for allowing me to learn even more about my family through Starr’s journey.
Besides all that important, impactful stuff, I want to talk about another aspect of the book that I adored: the romance! I didn’t actually realize that this book would have a love interest, as it isn’t mentioned in the blurb. However it doesn’t distract from the main plot one bit.
I must say, though, that Chris is my new book boyfriend. Even though their relationship is very minor in the grand scheme of things, I think it was really cute and meaningful in other ways, exemplifying culture gaps. He was so adorably awesome and the way he cared for Starr made me grin so hard sometimes! #FreshPrincess! (You’ll get that if you read the book, I promise).
I’m a pretty dramatic person by design, but I’m not kidding when I say that this book has changed me. I’ve related to main characters before. Oh, you’re really awkward at talking to people? SAME. You hate peanut butter? SAME. The difference with The Hate U Give: You hate it when people act like you’re the spokesperson for the entire black race? SAME. You hate it when people stereotype you as ‘sassy’ or ‘angry’? SAME. You feel like you’re not black enough sometimes? SAME.
I loved the ending. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that it was exactly what I was expecting, but also not, even though that makes absolutely no sense.
So this is the part when you start to question me, because you’re scared the book will be-overrated, right? WRONG. Believe the hype.
This is the power of a #ownvoices novel. I could write a book about how much I adored this book. That’s how fantastic it was.
And I’m sorry, but this wouldn’t be a Jordz the Bibliophile review if I didn’t marvel at this cover at least once. I definitely had a lot of fun taking bookstagram shots and modelling after the book – it’s already my new profile picture on Instagram and Twitter!
Alright, after that long-winded, mess of a review, I’d love to know what you guys think! Have you already read The Hate U Give? Did you plan on it? If you didn’t, have I convinced you? Tell me in the comments! 🙂
Oh, and by the way: #BlackLivesMatter